Higher Education, Science and Innovation Minister, Blade Nzimande, said he is pleased with the progress at Tshwane University of Technology (TUT) towards the planned phased return of students to the university.
Nzimande made the remarks following his visit to the institution’s campus in Ga-Rankuwa on Tuesday to assess its state of readiness for the phased return of students.
He said that the university has reprioritised funding to cover for COVID-19 related measures and has repurposed one of their chemical engineering laboratories to produce sanitisers and disinfectants for the whole university, and also supply surrounding communities.
“TUT also has a well-developed plan for multi-modal remote learning, which will ensure that it reaches the remotest of their students anywhere in our country for academic support and delivery of learning materials. I am happy with the progress I saw there,” Nzimande said.
The Minister also noted that TUT is by far the largest contact university, not only in South Africa, but in Africa.
“The socio-economic status of the students is 55% National Student Financial Aid Scheme (NSFAS) beneficiaries and predominantly from the rural areas of our country,” Nzimande said.
Meanwhile, the Sol Plaatje University said it will welcome its first cohort of students from 19 June 2020.
Among the students returning are those in their final year of study, who are due to graduate and those requiring access to laboratories and technical equipment.
Sol Plaatje Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Andrew Crouch, said the students have been identified through the various departments and will be informed individually.
“The Student Representative Council (SRC) and some members of the student leadership in residences will return approximately 10 to 14 days prior to the first cohort of students. They will be trained in the various health protocols and will assist the university with the transition to a new way of operating necessitated by the current pandemic,” Crouch said.
Under level 3 lockdown, final year students in other programmes requiring clinical training began returning to campuses in the country’s universities.
Another group of students free to return to universities include postgraduate students, who require access to laboratories, technical equipment, data, connectivity and access to the residence and private accommodation.
A maximum of 33% of the student population will be allowed to return to campuses, delivery sites and residences on condition that they can be safely accommodated and supported in line with the health and safety protocols, as directed by the department.